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TLT reads: I love Toscana

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Giulia Scarpaleggia is a well-known Italian food blogger and cooking class instructor, and shares the most delicious recipes on her blog Juls Kitchen. Recently she published a cookbook in which she shares her favourite Tuscan family recipes and stories.

While reading this book, I suddenly vividly remembered how Tuscany smells, feels and tastes. I thought about the bowl of ribolita I ate during a lovely lunch in Pistoria, the ciabatta with the best pecorino ever in Sienna and the creamy pumpkin risotto Ilva prepared.

Giulia’s stories are very visual and sometimes even a bit poetic, and that is something you have to like. Fans of Tessa Kiros (including myself) will definitely appreciate this. You can really feel Giulia’s honest love for Italian food and the importance of quality ingredients. With bland tomatoes and a slice of bread from the supermarket, your pappa al pomodoro will taste nothing like the original. Tuscan food is often simple and that’s why the single ingredients need to be of the best quality.

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The food pictures in this book are shot by Giulia herself and combine a no-nonsense styling with a somewhat nostalgic atmosphere that leaves the focus on the food itself. A perfect match with the rest of the book, if you ask me.

You will find many rustic meat dishes like arista (pork loin), polpettone (meatloaf) and trippa (Florentin tripe). The other dishes are honest and relatively simple as well. Stuffed tomatoes with herbs and breadcrumbs for instance, or spaghetti with fresh anchovies and the quarto quarti cake with vinsanto and orange.

I tried the crostini met butter and anchovies and that simple creamy-salty combination turned out to be incredibly good. I also liked the baked eggs and tomato, especially because combining the whites with the tomato sauce turned out to be a great shortcut for my previous method. The malfatti with spinach and ricotta is next on my list and I would love to try the stuffed zucchini with tuna as well.

A great addition is the list of addresses in the back of the book, which are a helpful guide during a trip to Tuscany. And believe me: after reading this book you definitely want to book that trip immediately.

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